frequently asked question is tempura healthier than fried

Is Tempura Healthier Than Fried? A Comprehensive Guide


Fried foods, also known as deep-fried foods, remain a popular choice globally, including in Japan. However, the health implications of consuming these foods have often been an issue of concern to many. This article aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the nutritional composition of one particular fried food type – tempura and compare it to its fried food counterparts. Furthermore, this guide delves into alternative ways of making traditional fried foods healthier.

What is Tempura?

Tempura is a famous Japanese dish that consists of seafood or vegetables coated in batter and deep-fried until they reach golden brown color. The method originates from the 16th century when Portuguese missionaries introduced the technique of coating seafood using wheat flour before frying as part of their cuisine style.

The ingredients of tempura include:

  • Flour: This is essential for making batter and gives tempura its crunchy texture
  • Water: Helps form the batter and regulate overall consistency
  • Other ingredients: Depending on one’s preferences, other components such as egg yolk, baking powder or vinegar can be added for seasoning purposes.

What Is Fried Food?

Frying food refers to cooking by submerging it in cooking oil at high temperatures until it becomes crispy on the outside and tender inside. Fried food remains a staple in American cuisines, with an estimated 65% of Americans consuming at least one type of fried food every day.

Common types Of Fried Foods Are:

  • French fries
  • Fried chicken
  • Donuts
  • Onion rings
  • Popcorn shrimp
  • Fried fish

How Are Fried Foods Prepared?

The most popular method of frying food is by deep-frying, where the food is completely submerged in the cooking oil and cooked until ready. Another common method of preparing fried foods is through shallow-frying, which involves placing relatively small amounts of food in a pan with hot oil.

Is Tempura Considered as a Healthy Option?

The nutritional composition of tempura varies depending on the ingredients used and preparation process. However, overall, tempura remains a dish that is rich in calories and unhealthy fats.

Nutritional Composition Of Tempura:

  • Calories count: A standard serving size of shrimp tempura contains up to 35g of protein, 30mg of calcium and up to 1000 calories
  • Fat content
    Tempura comprises unhealthy fats resulting from deep-frying. This presents potential risks to cardiovascular health and the proliferation of other diseases.
  • Carbs: The dish contains as many as one hundred grams of carbohydrates.
  • Protein: On average, a piece of vegetable tempura contains one gram of protein.

Potential Health Benefits of Tempura Consumption:

Apart from its intense calorie count, tempura does offer some beneficial nutrients such as protein. For example, the seafood included in tempura provides essential minerals such as calcium and iron.

Is It Safe to Consume Fried Food Often?

Research suggests that consuming fried foods regularly can cause a wide range of health problems due to the high-fat content. These health implications include obesity, high cholesterol, heart disease, and premature death.

The Negative Impact of Fried Food on Cardiovascular Health, Obesity and Other Diseases

The high content of unhealthy fats in fried foods increases the body’s cholesterol level is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases and central adiposity, an enormous contributor to chronic disease proliferation. In addition, frequent consumption of fried foods triggers inflammation within the body and hampers blood flow regulation.

Comparing Nutritional Value of Deep-Frying and Shallow-Frying

The difference in nutritional value between deep-frying and shallow-frying depends primarily on the food type. Deep-fried foods tend to absorb a higher amount of oil as opposed to shallow-fried foods that have relatively lower oil absorption rates.

Understanding the Differences Between Deep-Frying and Shallow-Frying Methods

  • Deep Frying: Deep frying involves complete immersion of foods into hot oil, leaving the food entirely coated with oil
  • Shallow Frying: In shallow frying, relatively lesser fat or oil is used to cook food by using a skillet or a frying pan.

Comparison between Shallow and Deep-frying Nutritional Content for Different Types of Food:

  • Vegetables: Shallow-fried vegetables have nearly 40% lesser fat content than deep-fried vegetables while retaining most if not all nutritional values present before frying.
  • Potatoes: Deep-fried potatoes such as French fries contain approximately 230 calories compared to baked potato snacks that stack up to less than 100 calories per serving.
  • Fish: Consuming deep-fried fish often is associated with a heightened risk of developing heart diseases and other chronic ailments due to its high-fat content compared to grilled or baked fish.

Differences Between Japanese-Style and Western-Style Fry-Batter

Japanese-style batter has a few readily distinct differences from the Western-style batter in terms of preparation, ingredients used, and calorie count.

Taste Perceptions:

The cultural difference between Japanese-style and western-style batters leads to a unique taste perception among individuals. While Japanese-style fry-batters are usually characterized as less greasy and having more shatteringly crisp texture; western style batters tend to have a broader range of flavors, thanks to the use of additional ingredients such as sugar and eggs.

Ingredients List Used:

In Japanese-style frying, wet ingredients such as cold water placed with flour while the baking powder serves as a leavening agent. In contrast, western-style frying usually uses beer or soda as well as dairy products such as milk or cream. Additionally, mayonnaise can be added into Western-style batter for an extra kick of flavor.

Calorie Count Differences:

Japenese- style batter type is often less dense than its Western counterpart hence; it carries significantly fewer calories when utilized in preparing tempura.

Is There Any Way to Make Traditional Fried Foods More Nutritious?

Yes. It is still possible to prepare fried foods with minimal health risks by using different cooking methods, managing portion sizes or utilizing healthy fixings in creating healthier breading options.

Exploring Ways to Make Fried Foods More Nutritious by:

  • Improving Breading Quality: Breadings made using whole-grain flour, lean meats, and fortified breading with flaxseed offer more nutritional benefits than the traditional deep-fried bread options
  • Managing Portion Sizes: Reduced portion sizes are fundamental to maintaining good health; research suggests that reducing the serving size from 90g of fries to only 50g reduces overall caloric intake by over 50%.
  • Experimenting with oils Used in Frying: Using healthier oil alternatives such as olive oil instead of vegetable or canola oil remains a better option for frying foods owing to its high unsaturated fat content.
  • Using Different Cooking Methods:Incorporating alternate cooking methods such as oven roasting, grilling, or baking helps reduce the calorie content of usually fried foods making them healthier alternatives.

Conclusion: Should You Eat Tempura or Fried Foods?

The choice between tempura and regular fried food consumption is ultimately up to individual dietary preferences and health needs. While both have their benefits and potential risks, the most important determinant variable is in how often they are consumed. This guide highlights the importance of moderation in consuming fried food and gives helpful tips on how individuals can take active steps towards preparing healthier fried meals.


Bennett DA, Embil JM. Deep frying: chemistry, nutrition, and practical applications. p.p-284(1994)

Choi EJ et al., Deep-frying conditions affect lipid oxidation, acrylamide formation and texture of french fries; J Sci Food Agric. pp-513(2013). pmid-22987791

Frequently Asked Questions

Is tempura really healthier than fried food?

Absolutely! While both tempura and fried foods are cooked in oil, the light batter used in making tempura absorbs less oil compared to the thick coating used in conventional frying. This results in a much lower calorie count for tempura, making it a healthier alternative.

Do all types of tempura have a lower calorie count?

No. The calorie content of tempura depends on the type of ingredients used. For instance, vegetables are a healthier choice compared to meats and seafood as they have fewer calories and fat. However, careful consideration must be given to the dipping sauces served with your tempura meal as some are high in calories and fat.

Is it possible to make healthy alternatives to both fried food and tempura?

Yes! There are several ways to prepare food without using too much oil, such as grilling, baking, or roasting. You can also try using whole-grain breading or almond flour for coating food instead of the typical refined flour commonly used for frying.

Can I still enjoy fried food even though it’s not healthy?

Of course! Just like any other indulgence, you can enjoy fried food as an occasional treat while maintaining a healthy lifestyle overall. Moderation is key. But with proper knowledge regarding healthier cooking alternatives, there’s always room to experiment and indulge while still being mindful of what goes into your body.

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